SDLP Health Spokesperson Colin McGrath has welcomed a trial of body-worn cameras for ambulance staff.
Mr McGrath said it was deeply regrettable the trial had been introduced after a rise in assaults on staff.
He said that any measure that would increase protection by discouraging the abuse of staff should be considered.
South Down MLA Mr McGrath said:
“While it’s disgraceful that this trial has come about as the result of a rise in assaults on ambulance service staff, I welcome the efforts to tackle this issue. The wearing of body-worn cameras will both dissuade people from attacking ambulance service staff in the first place, while also helping prosecute anyone who does attack or mistreat our staff and sends a clear message of zero tolerance on this issue.
“Our ambulance staff perform a vital role in our community in very difficult circumstances, through their work they save lives each and every day and there can be no excuse for assaulting them while they are trying to carry out their job. One attack is too many, but 603 attacks in 2020/21 shows how serious this issue has become.
“These attacks have far-reaching consequences, staff can be left with lasting physical and mental scars and many are forced to take periods off work, at a time when our ambulance service is already under huge pressure and patients face longer waits. Being attacked in the line of duty also stops our ambulance staff from providing treatment and transporting a patient to hospital, potentially putting their life at risk. I look forward to the findings of this trial and hope to see this measure introduced on a wider basis to protect both patients and ambulance service staff.”